Despite pandemic, North Carolina traffic deaths hit 1,500

Crash holds up traffic on HWY 211 on July 26, 2019. (Photo: WWAY)

(AP) — Traffic deaths in North Carolina last year surpassed 1,500 for the first time in 13 years despite a pandemic during which motorists logged fewer miles statewide.

The Charlotte Observer reports N.C. Department of Transportation data shows the number of miles driven dropped 19% last year, but the number of fatal crashes rose 8% over the previous year.

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Mark Ezzell, director of the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program, says with COVID-19, people are concentrating on their health and their financial futures and not focusing on driving.

Ezzell says the rise in traffic deaths is a public health crisis.